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Applied Email Marketing

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Digital Marketing - Study Notes:

Benefits of personalizing email content

What are some of the key benefits of personalizing email content?

  • Increased click rates: The more personalized an email, the higher your chances for increased click rates, getting more people to click on your email and to click within the content of your email. It is tailored, it is bespoke, and it is customized for those individuals.
  • Greater relevancy: Is it relevant to me? I only have a certain amount of time during the day, the week, the month, the year, and relevant content is what I’m looking for. Don’t waste my time. You don’t want to waste the reader’s time. You want to make sure that things are tailored to them.
  • Fewer spam complaints: When it’s more personalized, you’re going to have a lower incidence of spam, right, spam complaints. People won’t be saying, “Hey, this is spam.” And you don’t complain that something is spam when it’s relevant to you.
  • Greater customer acquisition: Perhaps one of the more important aspects of this is greater customer acquisition. If people see content that is more personalized to them via email, they are more likely to engage. You would acquire me as a customer if you provide me with material, and information, and products, and services that are relevant to the things that I might want to buy, and acquire, and engage with.

Segmentation

Let’s consider segmentation from an aligning content perspective.

Here are three different individuals, Christina, Dave, and Amanda. These are our case studies, of how you segment, how you align, because again, Christina, Dave, and Amanda are three different people, three different, unique individuals with interests, likes, dislikes, preferences, and so on.

You’ve got Christina. She’s 21 years old, she lives in a rural location, she likes sports, and she’s a student. Dave, on the other hand, is a 35-year-old, he’s a parent, he works a part-time job, and he likes craft and home improvement, kind of his hobbies, right? And then Amanda. Amanda is 40 years old, she’s career-driven, she’s single, no children, and she likes travel and motoring.

These are three disparate individuals who have very different likes and dislikes. When you segment their content from your email lists, you’re going to provide them with much more relevant, much more personalized information. Because that’s what we do in every context. We always segment, so remember this with your email marketing.

Align your content to the individuals you’re trying to reach. If you send content to Dave that was tailor-made for Amanda, it’s not going to work. If you send an email to Christina and it’s about craft and home improvement, when she wants to know about sports in a rural context, no. You send that content to Dave. Dave is your craft and home improvement guy. Or you know what? Travel. Amanda likes to go around the world, so you send her information relevant to travel, if that’s the industry, if that’s the list that she’s on.

Qualities of well-formatted copy

What are some of the qualities of well-formatted copy?

  • Use of headings: You’ve got to break your email down into digestible components. Make it almost like a miniature blog post. If you look at what makes blogs successful, it’s been the way they enable people to digest content in ways that are just easier to read and easier to segment out.
  • Single-paragraph style: If you look at most journalistic entities on the web, they’re using a single-paragraph style. Not because it necessarily aligns with the old sort of copy rules of the day, but because it’s far easier for people to read and digest a single-paragraph style.
  • Single link color: Keep uniform link color across the board. Don’t use a rainbow of colors for your links. Every link should be the same color, letting the reader know, “This is a link that I should click on or that I can click on,” and then leaves them no room for confusion.
  • Balance between imagery and text: Create a balance or a harmony between imagery and text. You always want to have this balance. You don’t want to have too much imagery and keep a few lines of text because your text will get lost amid all these images. And vice versa, if you’re going to use important imagery, don’t just bury it under mountains of text. So think about how you segment your content, how you chunk it together.

Well-formatted copy takes into account these four different things, and so always keep these things in mind. And a great way, though, if you want to sort of see who’s doing it well and great examples, look at blogs, look at industry, look at the sectors in which you work, and you’ll see countless examples, on the web and on mobile, of easily digestible content.

Headings

What makes for a compelling heading, getting people to read and sort of look through your content within your email? You need to consider your subject line, not just the body of the copy in the email.

  • Question: These are the subject lines that ask a question, hinting at the fact that there’s an answer in the actual email. So you hook people in by asking a question, but not providing the answer. And the answer, of course, is in your email, which is a great way to engage and compel someone to click through and open up your email.
  • How to: It’s almost asking a question, how to do this, how to do that. If you want to learn more, you have to click the email, you have to go in, you have to dive deeper.
  • Announcement: The announcement subject line is the kind of subject line that says, “Hey, guess what? This just happened. Celebrate, celebrate with us.” Or, “Here, here’s something new we’re launching. It’s something never before seen.” And then it’s kind of like, “What’s happening behind the curtain? We’d like to announce it to you. We’d like to show it to you.”
  • Number: This goes hand in hand with the popular format of making lists in blog posts is the number subject line. The number subject line basically says, “Here are seven things that something, something, something, and so on.” Most people want to know, “Well, what are those seven things? I’d like to know.” The number subject line is another way to hook the reader into going into your content. That’s the number one challenge, is getting through all the static, and all the emails, and all the messaging that everybody’s getting. So the number subject line is a great way for you to hook people, get their attention.
  • Curiosity gap: Create a gap, create some curiosity, and tease the reader with something. Then say, “Want to fill in the gap? It’s in the email.” That’s the curiosity gap. Again, anytime you can compel someone into thinking, “I wish I knew more about this,” that’s going to lead to a successful subject line.
  • Personalized: The personalized subject line doesn’t get used as often, not yet, anyway. The personalized subject line, though, gives the reader something about themselves in the subject line. Case in point. I’ve seen it on Facebook quite a bit, where there’s a custom T-shirt and it has my name in it. It’ll say, “Stoller” in the name of the shirt. It’s a sort of graphic illustration on the shirt. Now, that’s a great personalization that hooks me in every time in those particular Facebook ads because it’s got my name front and center and it makes me pay attention to it. The same thing goes for an email that goes out. If it has someone’s name in the subject line, like, “Hey, Eric, this post is for you,” there’s a greater chance I’m going to pay attention to it because it feels a little less formal. It feels more personalized. It feels as if it came from a friend, or a colleague, or someone that I already know really well.

Excessive formatting

You don’t want to format excessively. Operate under the principle of less is more.

  • Bold: Don’t overdo bold. If everything is bold, then nothing is bold. And you want to make sure that you don’t overdo it.
  • Underlining: The same thing goes with underlining. Don’t underline everything. Underline only those pieces of content that actually should be underlined or are interesting enough to be underlined.
  • Color: The same thing goes with colors. Don’t confuse a reader with too many colors, too much rainbow. You know, we have a lot of colors at our disposal, but keep your colors in your email marketing in line with your brand’s strategy, your brand’s imaging and communications guidelines. That will help you so much.
  • Italics: If you see a lot of italics, it can turn you off. It’s just not as legible, it’s not easy to read, and all these things from too much boldness, to underlining everything, to issues with colors.

Maintain contrast in there as well. I think that’s another important piece. And italics, all these items on this list of excessive formatting, think about how it’s going to look on a small screen. You know, too much formatting can make something almost illegible. You can’t read it on a small screen, so very important to look at.

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Eric Stoller

Eric Stoller is a Higher Education Strategic Communications Consultant and Blogger at Inside Higher Ed. With a background in student affairs, academic advising, wellness, technology, and communications, Eric educates clients and audiences on digital identity development. As a blogger, he generates conversations, answers questions, and provides insight about a variety of tech topics, including Social Media Strategies and Email Marketing.

Eric Stoller

Data protection regulations affect almost all aspects of digital marketing. Therefore, DMI has produced a short course on GDPR for all of our students. If you wish to learn more about GDPR, you can do so here:

DMI Short Course: GDPR

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ABOUT THIS DIGITAL MARKETING MODULE

Applied Email Marketing
Eric Stoller Eric Stoller
Skills Expert

The Applied Email Marketing module will help you to identify the attributes and features of an effective marketing email. You will recognize the importance of professional email design to retain brand reputation and subscribers, and will understand that testing is the basis of every successful email marketing campaign. The module will then introduce the key metrics and statistics within email reporting, and will help you to identify methods for optimizing the performance of your campaign. 

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